Friday, December 19, 2014

On the occasion of 'International Migrants Day' on December 18, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos spoke about the significant role of legal migration in the European Union and the contribution of legal migrants to the economic, cultural and social development of Europe.

Avramopoulos referred to the big challenges of xenophobia and populism threatening the core values of our societies and stressed the need for immigration to become an integral part of a more comprehensive EU-wide approach for addressing labour market and socio-economic challenges in Europe. 

He referred to the fact that many member-states are facing labour and skills shortages in key sectors, and therefore the increasing need for need legal ways for non EU-citizens to come to Europe for work or study. "Immigration must become an integral part of a more comprehensive EU-wide approach for addressing labour market and socio-economic challenges in Europe," he added.

More information: European Commission Press Release (12. 18.2014)

The Greek economy seems to have returned to positive growth rates as the GDP rate shows that the economy is steadily growing this year, Ernst & Young said its Eurozone Forecast report. It says that Greece was the fastest-growing economy in the Eurozone in the third quarter, with a GDP growth of 0.7% compared with the previous quarter, marking the first GDP increase after six years of recession.

The audit firm reports that it expects the recovery to be widespread with all basic sectors of the economy contributing to GDP growth this year. In particular, consumption seems to be growing further, after a 0.3% increase in the second quarter, while fixed-capital investments rose 1.4% in the second quarter.

More information: E&Y Eurozone Forecast December 2014

A $1.2 million gift to McGill University from leaders of Canada’s Greek community will strengthen Modern Greek research and scholarship at McGill and endow the University’s Phrixos B. Papachristidis Chair in Modern Greek and Greek-Canadian Studies in perpetuity.

The gift, which includes contributions from over 70 donors in Montreal and across Canada, will allow McGill, already Canada’s most international university, to expand the scope of its Greek studies programme. "We are grateful to the Greek-Canadian community for the generosity exemplified in this extraordinary gift," said Suzanne Fortier, McGill’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor. The Papachristidis Chair, which is housed within McGill’s Department of History and Classical Studies, was first established in 1988 by the Papachristidis family in honour of the late Montreal shipping industrialist.

The Ministry of Culture has agreed to proceed with a special construction that will allow visitors to enter the Erechtheion of the Acropolis in small groups. Presently, the visitor may admire from a distance this elegant edifice and the six statues of maidens known as the Caryatids which support its roof.

Erechtheion used to be a temple which was built on the sacred rock of the Acropolis, in the 5th C. BC as a replacement of an earlier temple dedicated to Goddess Athena. The name Erechtheion derives from Erechtheus (earth born), the mythical king of Athens, who was worshipped there.

The building has been used in almost every historical period. In the early Christian period, it was converted into a church dedicated to Virgin Mary. During the Frankish Rule, it became a palace and under the Ottoman Rule, the building served as the Turkish commander's residence of his harem. In the early nineteenth century, Lord Elgin removed one of the Caryatids together with a column and during the Greek War of Independence the building was bombarded and severely damaged. In the 1980s, the Erechtheion became the first monument of the Acropolis to be restored as part of a project which was honoured with the Europa Nostra award.

See also: The Acropolis Museum in the Google Art Project

For the celebration commemorating the 400 year of Domenikos Theotokopoulos’ (El Greco) death, the State Museum of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg is hosting the exhibition of new works by Tripoli-born Greek artist, Nikos Floros. Inspired by El Greco, his mosaics The Resurrection and The Disrobing of Christ were unveiled on December 3. The two sculpture mosaics of monumental proportions were created of more than 10,000 aluminum cans; this gives them the otherworldly, transcendent and mysterious character of the works of El Greco.

"This marks the first time my work has gone on display inside a religious monument which is also a church, a place where people come to pray," the artist said. Theodoros Bizakis, Greek consul general in Saint Petersburg noted that it is one of the rare occasions in which Saint Isaac’s, is hosting a contemporary art show, which demonstrates that Russian people are interested in contemporary Greece.